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Perks of working on the 'Mary'

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Unique ID:19442
Description:A ship worker on board 'Queen Mary' talks about the perks of working there and how the tipping system worked.
Copyright:Southampton City Council
Partner:SCC Oral History Unit
Partner ID:Unknown


Well, when you say perks, the whole of the system worked on perks, I wouldn't say backhanders because that's not the right word, perks.  If you, as a steward, as a waiter, if you wanted a nice grill, a nice steak, you always looked after the grill chef.  You gave him a couple of bucks in those days and you knew you were alright for a ...if you liked oysters or shrimps or anything like that in that line, then you dropped a couple of bucks to the fella that looked after the pantry on that sort of thing.  And the whole system worked like that.  And also if you wanted better service from the chef you looked after him, you gave him a couple of bucks so the system worked.  Those were the sort of perks there.

Perks as far as a steward was concerned or a waiter was purely and simply the tips that came from people in the restaurant.  Mind, there again, that could vary.  We always dreaded when we got our allocation just before the ship sailed. The restaurant manager and the senior head waiter was doing the seating arrangements 'cos they had a special table with these slots in with every table and every chair place, and they slipped it in, and what had happened of course in those days they would get the list down from the Cunard office of all the special people, the regular people who travelled, people with money, politicians, diplomats, film stars that sort of thing, and if they weren't eating in the Veranda Grill...and in those days to eat in the Veranda Grill each meal cost an extra 10 shillings.  In today's value that's 50p.  How times have marched on.

And as I go back to what I was saying, we always dreaded getting what we called the 'bloods', and they were known as 'bloods' in those days, the passengers. The 'bloods', if you had a family of five or six.  What happened was you used to probably have a nanny or a governess with two or three children so at dinner you came down an hour earlier than you normally would do to serve them the meals and then you had to clear off and re-set again for the mother and father to come down and eat, and inevitably they were always the worst tippers.


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